LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
With the bulk of the baby boom generation moving into their senior years there are growing concerns about long-term care in this country. Depending upon where you live that care could vary dramatically in cost and quality. That's according to a new study from the AARP. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The motivation for the study is this simple fact - the number of available family caregivers is declining. In 2010 there were potentially 7 for each person over 80. By the time baby boomers reach that age there will be only 4 potential caregivers for each of them. And those numbers are expected to continue declining. Chalk it up to longer lives and smaller families. Susan Reinhard, senior vice president for public policy at the AARP, says the study can show states where they need to improve care.
SUSAN REINHARD: And the gradual case of improvement has to pick up. We don't have a lot of time to get ready for the demographic imperative that is before us.
JAFFE: The study looked at 26 different variables in each state, from affordability and access, to whether care is delivered in private homes or more expensive nursing homes. Reinhard says state that encourage more care at home got high marks.
REINHARD: It's a philosophy, it's a value that states have and they work hard to make that happen.
JAFFE: The AARP calls this study a scorecard. So if you're keeping score, the state with the highest marks was Minnesota, followed by Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. Bringing up the rear were Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama - with Kentucky coming in last. Never the less, Reinhard says all the states improved in some ways from the previous study in 2011. One example, more than a dozen states have allowed nurses to train home care workers in medical tasks like wound care and injections.
REINHARD: And the family caregiver doesn't have to run home from work and do it.
JAFFE: And with the cost of long-term care exceeding the total income of many middle-class families, older adults will continue to rely on family caregivers - even if their numbers are dwindling. Ina Jaffe, NPR News.
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